Little Bit of This, Little Bit of That

Paris by Natalie ParkerParis by Natalie ParkerParis by Natalie ParkerParis by Natalie ParkerParis by Natalie ParkerBelgium by Natalie ParkerBelgium by Natalie ParkerBelgium by Natalie ParkerBelgium by Natalie ParkerBelgium by Natalie ParkerBelgium by Natalie ParkerHow about Paris with a little side of Belgium?  And Easter!

Even though I took the telephoto lens like I mentioned earlier, I didn’t use it as much as I thought I would.  I don’t consider this a real test though – it was really really cold during the trip.  I anticipated using the telephoto more outside, but when we were outside, we were usually shivering and rushing to the next place.  Brrrrr.

I found a lot of my pictures this jaunt were still-lifes.  This is probably because it was cold and I would get my camera out when we were inside or sitting down.  I took a lot of pictures of flowers again!

It was odd being so bundled up yet having so many colorful things to capture!

How do you handle taking pictures when it’s cold outside or in bad weather?  Do you still go for it or does the weather dampen your spirits?


Seattle Photo Walk

Mr. P and I took a whirlwind trip to Seattle a couple weekends ago and I used it as an opportunity to play with the new camera.  Here is a teeny tiny photo walk!

It rained almost the entire time, but I’m glad we got to be there to see fall colors!  We don’t get many fall colors in California.

Really pretty leaves falling on train tracks.

Seattle Trip by Natalie Parker We spent the better part of a day eating our way through Pike Place Market.Seattle Trip by Natalie Parker Sometimes we sat down to eat at Pike Place.Seattle Trip by Natalie Parker Other times we ate on the go (mini donuts!).

Seattle Trip by Natalie Parker We got to see guys throwing fish – but I never got a good shot of it.

Seattle Trip by Natalie Parker On the advice of fellow blogger Jean Manis, I visited the Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibit at the Seattle Center near the Space Needle.

Seattle Trip by Natalie ParkerThe exhibit was absolutely fantastic.

Seattle Trip by Natalie ParkerThe exhibit ends in a greenhouse with a beautiful piece.  There are roving photographers in the museum that will take your picture.  You can email yourself a copy of the picture and it is included already in the ticket price.  Awesome!

Seattle Trip by Natalie ParkerI know we just scratched the surface, we were there for no time at all!  I didn’t even get to sit at a coffee house!  No matter, I’m sure we will go back!

China Vacation Photobook

My China photobook is done!

I now have 5 out of 6 vacation memory keeping steps complete!  Technically I think it’s 5.5 steps because I have half of step 6 (careful storage of mementos) complete.

I create a photobook for each vacation before I work on the scrapbook.  I discussed all the reasons why when I got back from Egypt last year, see the post on that here.

Same drill as last time, this is a 5×7″ photobook from MyPublisher.  Their software has gotten even better since last year and they make everything so easy.

I always start the book with a statement picture – this time it was the red lanterns on Gui Jie (Ghost Street).

I put text on each page where I started a new city but left the rest text-free.

Then I made lots and lots of pages.  This book is about 60 pages.  MyPublisher’s standard pages are very thick and high quality.

On the last page, I used a grid of pictures from everywhere on the trip, plus the cool “End” sign.

On the back cover, I put a picture of us.  I decided to make it a “thing” to put us on the back since I did the same with our Egypt Photobook.

Again, I’m really pleased with the quality and MyPublisher isn’t paying me to do an advertisement here.  When the book arrived at my office, my coworkers were very impressed with the quality and how good the pictures look when they’re printed and bound.

More Pictures from China

Photos of China by Natalie ParkerSummer is coming to a close.  My next vacation being far off, let’s have some fun and look at pictures of my most recent trip to China!

The picture above is from the Shanghai Pudong International Airport.  It’s right above a moving walkway between the Maglev station and the main terminal.  Mr. P was halfway down the moving walkway before he realize he’d lost me.  The sign was too perfect, I had to stop!

Next, a fruit salesman outside of my friend’s apartment.  China has lots of interesting dichotomies, in this case food on a bike cart outside quite modern high rise buildings.

Photos of China by Natalie ParkerAn unrestored section of the Great Wall.  Most pictures of the Wall you see are actually restored sections.

Photos of China by Natalie ParkerA trip to the Beijing Zoo to see pandas!

Photos of China by Natalie ParkerThe summer palace in Beijing.

Photos of China by Natalie ParkerFamous Shanghai soup dumplings (xiao long bao).  These were sooooo very good.

Photos of China by Natalie ParkerQuail eggs on a stick for sale in Xi’an’s Muslim Quarter.

Photos of China by Natalie ParkerThe Terra Cotta Warriors outside of Xi’an.

Photos of China by Natalie ParkerAmazing sandstone pillars at Zhangjiajie National Forest Park.  This is the land that inspired the movie Avatar.

Photos of China by Natalie ParkerWild monkeys on the valley floor of Zhangjiajie National Forest Park.

Photos of China by Natalie ParkerStanding above the clouds over three thousand feet up at Tianmen Mountain National Park.

Photos of China by Natalie ParkerOn Victoria Peak in Hong Kong, looking down at the city.

Photos of China by Natalie ParkerThe Tian Tan Buddha on Lantau Island in Hong Kong – the largest sitting Buddha in the world.

Photos of China by Natalie ParkerFried rice inside a pineapple Shek O Chinese & Thai Seafood Restaurant on the southern end of Hong Kong Island.

Photos of China by Natalie ParkerMr. P and I on the last day of our trip standing above Shek O beach.

Photos of China by Natalie ParkerCue wistful sigh.

I never understand the enormity of anything I do until way after the fact.  Looking at these pictures, I keep thinking “my gosh, we went everywhere!

On Traveling and Taking Pictures

Mr. P, being ever so thoughtful as normal, brought this CNN article to my attention recently.  It’s about travel, social media and technology and how those things affect how much of our travels we share with friends.

It’s a very interesting read and I agree with many of the author’s points.  It made me realize that there isn’t a right answer to this issue and it’s up to me to balance.

For example, I will still show pictures from my vacations on Facebook.  However, I do not “photo dump” every single picture I took for my friends to see.  I very carefully pick the best ones.  There’s nothing that makes me not care anymore about looking at someone’s trip as having to thumb through blurry pictures or 10 pictures of the same thing in a Facebook album.

Putting down the camera.  The author’s thoughts about putting the camera down are well taken.  Again, it’s balance.  I try to learn each trip how to better capture my experience with the camera.  Still, there are times when I just enjoy myself without worrying so much about photos.  That’s especially true when I’m at an overwhelming or famous site – sometimes it’s impossible to capture the enormity of a place.  I have surprisingly few pictures of the Egyptian Pyramids for this reason.

What do you think?  How do you handle these things when you travel?  I’d love to hear your thoughts on the article.

Yup, that’s me trying to figure out my friend’s camera on top of the Great Wall.

Minibook: Everything We Ate in China

China Food Travel MinibookI’ve never made a mini-book before.  Funny, right?

I wanted to do some sort of fun project about all the food we ate on our trip to China.  I started by taking a picture of everything we ate, beginning on the plane ride.  Mr. P and our friends were gracious in not touching anything on the table until I got a shot of it – they even reminded me to take photos!

Shopping in Beijing, I found this awesome little book.

China Food Travel MinibookI printed the food pictures as 2-inch squares when I got home, and then left a 1/8-inch white border when I cut them out.

China Food Travel MinibookI was a little concerned that the thickness of all the photos was going to mess with the binding of the book, but the finished product is actually pretty cool!

China Food Travel MinibookI sat in front of the TV with these supplies and went to work.

China Food Travel MinibookI used a date stamp to stamp each page with the date the meal corresponded to.

China Food Travel MinibookThen I taped in each picture and wrote a few words.

I also wrote divider pages for each city we were in.

China Food Travel MinibookNot bad for a first attempt?  I like how minibooks have an effortless look, so I hope I succeeded.

I’ve included a bunch of pages below so you can look at them.  I used over 80 photos, so this is just a sample!

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Vacation Photobook

Vacation Photobook

It’s getting time for vacation season!

We like to have pictures ready to show people when we get home from vacation.  Doesn’t everyone?  I don’t scrapbook with 4×6″ prints, so printing a bunch would be a waste.

Enter the MyPublisher Hardcover Pocketbook.  It starts at $19.99.  They have a soft-cover version starting at $9.99 but I like the feel of the hardcover.  The book is a little over 5×7.”

Vacation PhotobookThis gives us a durable, pretty album that we can take to grandparents’ houses and leave on our coffee table.

Vacation PhotobookI’ve been a MyPublisher customer for years because I love the quality and I can get great sales.

I plan the photobook as soon as we get home from the vacation.  I decide about how much I want to spend, how many pages that will give me and then divide up the pages to cover parts of our trip.

I know, I’m methodical.

Vacation PhotobookI put the book together and wait for MyPublisher to run a sale (which they do often).

Vacation PhotobookI made this one to showcase pictures from our trip to Egypt and Jordan last year.  I used the basic templates available on MyPublisher.  Since then, they’ve updated their software to be even more awesome and give you more template options.

Vacation PhotobookThis doesn’t replace the scrapbook.  I have tons of travel keepsakes that will go in a scrapbook with these pictures.  This is a compliment that conveniently shows a ton of pictures in portable form.

Vacation PhotobookAny products endorsed on this blog are products I actually use and like.  I have not accepted any freebies or payments in exchange for promotions.

Lollygagging in London

Photographing London

Hello lovelies!  If you follow me on Facebook or Google+, you know that I just got home from an extended business trip although I didn’t say where.  I spent close to two weeks in London!

Photographing London

I won’t bore you with the business bit, except to say I spent many 12-hour days in the office feverishly working.  On the weekends, I feverishly crammed in as much sightseeing as possible since I’d never been to London.  (End result = exhaustion with a side of jet lag).

Photographing London

Although I was there for business, I toted my camera along and tried to work on how I take pictures.  I love looking at travel pictures from other bloggers and secretly file away lessons I want to try on my next trip.

Just take pictures.  That was my biggest mantra.  I’m all about living in the moment but there are lots of times where I wished I’d taken the time to snap something.  The carriage below was the first picture I took on the trip – it was rolling by right after I checked into my hotel.

Photographing London

Bad lighting: being winter, I battled the sun a lot.  It never got too high up in the sky and set early.  It created a lot of harsh light situations at places where I didn’t have time go to go back and get better pictures.  I was barely able to get the Olympic countdown clock!

Photographing London

I experimented with getting more randomness, signs especially.  I realized I love signs!

Photographing London

Of course there’s food.  I feel like food pictures capture a lot about the trip.

Photographing London

Yes, I’m going to have to re-watch my Royal Wedding DVD and every other movie I own that’s set in Britain.  I only now realized how many movies on the list I shared with you fit that category.

Photographing London

Click here to see a photo index for all my posts on London

Little Albums for Little Hands

How do you share your pictures with little kids?

I have an adorable niece and nephew and I wanted a fun way to show them pictures of our travels without boring them through a slide show.

The objective: find something easy to make and inexpensive.  This way if they destroyed it, no big deal.

My Mini by MyPublisher

Enter the My Mini book.  It was perfect!  Here’s why:

  • Price: only $2.49!
  • Simplicity: 20 pages, 1 picture per page plus 1 picture for the cover.
  • Size: 2.75×3.75 inches, perfect for small hands!
  • Fonts: you can use any font on your computer for the cover!

Why MyPublisher?  There certainly are other similar products out there.  I used MyPublisher to make wedding album gifts and was really pleased with their products.  Plus, you don’t have to upload every single picture from your trip like you have to do with other systems.  MyPublisher lets me cruise around my hard drive for the photos I want to use, lets me change my mind a thousand times, and I only have to upload the finished book.

The verdict?  The kids loved them.  My six-year-old niece is trying to convince us to take her to Paris.

These albums are so darn cute that I’m trying to come up with more reasons why I need to order more!

Note:  I was not paid by MyPublisher to endorse this item just as I am not paid to endorse anything.  I only feature items that I love and actually use.

Capturing Your Vacation

How do you capture your vacation? How do you like to take pictures? As I went through the pictures from our trip, I found some common threads/techniques which I’ll share below.

Don’t think of me as some fantastic photographer when you look at these. We like to take the shotgun approach. I am not a professional.

By the time we got home, we had taken 7 gigs of pictures. That’s 7 gigabytes of pictures.

Here are just a few.

The Sights

A.K.A. the “of course” pictures or “the good stuff.” These pictures are self-explanatory.

Khafre’s Pyramid and the Sphinx.

The Rammesseum.

Hatshepsut’s Temple.

Watching balloons go up at sunrise over the Valley of the Kings.

From our balloon – the Valley of the Kings is on the other side of these mountains.

View from our hot air balloon.

The Treasury at Petra

The Monastery at Petra.

Wadi Mujib Canyon, Jordan.

Site where Jesus was baptized.


Sometimes you should do the opposite of taking a step back. Take a step forward and stop trying to capture the entire scene and just get one thing.

Traces of paint on a carving of Horus.

Lighting candles for friends and their loved ones.

Salt flaking off the rocks at the Dead Sea.


I’ll remember what we ate, but it’s fun to show people. I don’t take pictures of every meal, just a few here and there.

Mixed grill brought to our table.

Koshary – Cairo dish of rice, macaroni, lentils, chickpeas and crunchy onions with a tomato sauce mixed in.



You may be at a site wishing you could get a picture without all of the people in it. It may actually be better to get someone in the picture to show perspective. It’s hard to explain to people just how gigantic some of the sites really were.

Using ourselves to show the enormity of the Great Pyramid of Khufu.

Me in the Great Hypostle Hall of the Karnak Temple.

Broken colossus of Ramses. I’m standing by his head and shoulder.

Every Day Things, Life

Sometimes random, these are every day things that you might not normally take a picture of. Looking back, they make the photo collection interesting (I might be the only one who doesn’t get tired of looking at ancient Egyptian temples).

Egyptian 1 pound coins.

Store just outside the Pyramids at Giza.

I couldn’t get enough pictures of camels. This one smiled mid-bite!

As it Happens

I took quite a few pictures while we were waiting around for something. It’s fun to show what we were watching.

Watching jewelry maker polish the bracelet they custom made for me.

Watching our hot air balloon get blown up.

Watching our balloon get deflated and folded up after our flight.


Much like getting perspective, it’s fun to juxtapose two things in the picture. I find it makes the subject much more interesting.

Flowers at the Temple of Philae.

Citadel with Roman ruins on the hill in Amman, Jordan.

Where We Stayed

I’ll remember our hotels, but I’m sure people would rather see pictures than me trying to describe it to them.

Our hotel in Cairo was originally built as a palace.

View of the Nile from our hotel along with Cairo traffic.

View from our cabin on our Nile Cruise.

View from our hotel in Petra.

The Dead Sea beach at our last hotel.

Points of Reference

I take pictures of signs all the time. I think it breaks up the string of scenery pictures when I show them to people and helps convey what we were seeing.

The Dead Sea – the lowest place on Earth!

Entrance to Mount Nebo, where Moses saw the Promised Land.

The picture above helps define this picture: the Promised Land from where Moses saw it.


If it’s acceptable to take pictures in markets and stores, I go for it. It’s such a fun way to show the buzz of how an area works.

Let’s not talk about what I did in the beaded necklace store.

Buying spices.

We Were There!

After a couple of trips, I realized I wasn’t getting enough pictures of ourselves! I never hesitate now to take a tripod or ask someone to take our picture.

Us floating in the Dead Sea. You can get a camera dry bag at REI or other outdoor stores.

My absolute favorite picture of the entire trip.

Thanks for giving me an excuse to share my pictures!